Mobile, A La Carte and Live Sports Hot Topics at Variety’s Sports Entertainment Summit

Mobile, La Carte and Live Sports

Connectivity everywhere a goal

Breaking down such topics as the use of mobile devices in sports entertainment and the economic realities of televised sports, prominent figures from Fox Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the NFL and more gathered at the Variety Sports Entertainment Summit on Thursday.

Randy Freer, COO and co-president of Fox Sports, said in his keynote Q&A that a la carte was an unworkable “fantasy,” and others backed up his sentiment.

“A la carte is not as good of an idea as those people in that position think it is,” said Terry Denson, vice president of content strategy & acquisition for Verizon Communications, in a panel about regional sports networks. “It’s not a healthy way to go.”

Henry Ford, SVP and general manager of Fox Sports San Diego, echoed his thoughts, though admitted they could do a better job of selling the bundle and emphasizing its value to skeptical consumers who feel they are paying for unwanted channels.

During the same panel, Denson argued that RSNs themselves would become less necessary in an increasingly mobile world. The use of alternate platforms in sports entertainment was an ongoing discussion point throughout the day.

Joe Inzerillo, SVP and chief technology officer at MLB Advanced Media, and Brian Dunphy, senior director of business development at Qualcomm, explained their emphasis on mobile connectivity in sports arenas in a chat.

“It’s a utility at this point,” Inzerillo said. “If you go to a sporting event and can’t get a phone call, it creates anxiety.”

Dunphy went on to explain the promise of expanding “small cells” in crowded ballparks to take on the challenge of connectivity. Inzerillo said attendees should be able to order food, check bathroom lines and even view instant replays on their phones during a game.

“When we think about engagement, we don’t think of mobile as a companion device or a second device,” added Alex Vargas, vice president of business operations at  Bleacher Report, in a panel about companion mobile, social and online experiences. “For the majority of users, it is their primary device.”

The panel came at a fitting time, as ESPN today launched an app called WatchESPN, which includes a live toolbar, as Christen Harris, VP of digital video distribution at Disney and ESPN Media Networks, explained at a panel for TV Everywhere.

Jonathan Wilner, VP of product at Ooyala, said in the same panel that everyone they work with is working on mobile first, and that live sports are increasingly crucial.

“It’s no surprise that sports is the stickiest content,” Wilner said. “Live sports are incredibly important in getting people to try a new platform.”

The summit was held at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, two days before the launch of Fox Sports 1, Fox’s new 24-hour national sports cable network.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1

Leave a Reply

1 Comment

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. EK says:

    What a crock! Check restroom lines and order food via phone? Instant replay is on jumbotrons. Are people so digitally oriented these days that they can’t simply go to a game and enjoy the experience? Too bad if that’s the case. Loved days of yore when you sat in the stands at a football game, puffed on a pipe and maybe took a nip of schnapps from a hip flask. Only device was a transistor radio for play-by-play but few used them. It was a fun, visceral experience. And it was affordable.

    Why don’t these guys concentrate on what’s important at the stadium — making it accessible at a price people can afford and serving up food that is equally affordable. Make it a fun time for fans and families. Sports have become such a business oriented thing, with inflated salaries for players and emphasis on broadcast deals, that the whole point has been lost. Sports are entertainment and are an integral part of our culture. Too bad it’s all money ball now and no longer about the fans.

More TV News from Variety

Loading